Beat your personal best

Want to make it to the finish line faster? Finetune your run with these tips.

1. Work on your form
An efficient running style will lead to greater gains all around, with fewer injuries, faster runs and increased comfort, so concentrate on good form. As you run, lift your heel up to your butt, drive your knee through, extend your lower leg, then claw your foot back. Keep your head lifted, shoulders back and down, and your abs engaged. Your neck should be relaxed throughout. Ensure your arms swing in the direction you’re travelling and pump your fists forwards and your elbows back. These may sound like small changes, but they’ll make a big difference to your running technique and your results.

2. Boost your core
Working on your deeper postural muscles will give you a more stable trunk, allowing you to generate more power through your arms and legs. Do plenty of planks and Swiss ball exercises to help you develop your very own centre of excellence.

3. Join the resistance
Make circuit-based gym sessions a key part of your regimen. Include lots of squats, lunges and deadlifts (using barbells and dumbbells) to build strength in your leg muscles. This will help to propel you forwards with much greater force.

4. Be dynamicand active
This is absolutely crucial as far as your warm-up is concerned, both for everyday training and for your race days. Research has revealed that static stretching provides little benefit before a run and may even increase your risk of injury and slow you down. Instead, try to focus on mobility, gently moving your joints through each range of movement.

5. Give it some bounce
Bounding is a really great way to develop more power in your legs. Give this simple exercise a go next time you go for a run. Try to think of lengthening your stride and increasing your knee lift, so that your speed actually decreases. Now focus on reducing the length of time your foot is in contact with the floor for, and push off the toe so that your foot action speeds up and you explode upwards and forwards.

6. Head for the hills
Include a few shuttle runs (short bursts of speed over short distances) on a hill as part of your training. Use the uphill section as your work phase and downhill as recovery, but also reverse the exercise to reap the maximum benefit. Uphill bursts will build leg strength and downhill sprints will help your legs get used to moving faster.

7. Keep setting those goals
It’s important to remember that your body adapts to the physical stress of regular exercise by making changes at a cellular level, leading to noticeable improvements in your fitness. This principle of progressive overload means that as your body gets used to the demands of your exercise, and you begin to get much stronger and fitter, you’ll be able to take on increasingly challenging workouts. So make sure you’re raising the bar at every session.

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